Module%201%20-%20The%20History%20of%20the%20Economic%20Global%20System

Module%201%20-%20The%20History%20of%20the%20Economic%20Global%20System

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The History of the Economic Global System: Colonialism and Slave Trade After the Atlantic trading system was opened in 1492, European states underwent two periods of colonial expansion: 1) 1492- (approximately) 1825 and 2) 1885-1990. The first period of colonization was also the era of the Atlantic-based slave trade; this trade reached its highest level of export/import in the 18 th century. Between 1825 to 1885, the Atlantic slave trade was discontinued; beginning 1885, European (and non-European) Great Powers conquered and occupied most of the landmass of the world -- especially in Africa. Two basic types of colonies were created by European powers: settlement colonies and exploitation colonies (Woytinsky, W. S. and E. S. Woytinsky, World Commerce and Governments , 1955: 678). Settlement colonies were dominated by settlers from Northwestern Europe. Settlement colonies are today part of the 1 st world. In contrast, exploitation colonies are members of the 3 rd world. In addition, almost all the areas where both African slaves and indentured servants from west, south, and east Asian lands were sent are today 3 rd world countries. We will review the history of the slave trade and colonialism to understand the present day unequal global economy; two concepts are going to be important in explaining the development of this inequality: unequal exchange and the international division of labor. Colonial expansion and slavery: 1492-1825 Two great European powers and two breakthrough explorer/entrepreneurs set down the logic that has become today’s global economy. The ruling houses of Portugal and Hapsburg Spain competed with each other to find the prize: a cheap alternative water route to the Orient. Why? European territorial trade with Asia was blocked or became prohibitively expensive, risky, and unstable after the Islamic Ottoman Turk conquest of the Christain Byzantine Empire and the eastern Mediterranean. That was the push factor; the pull factor was the race to find routes giving Europeans access to the expensive spices, textiles, and precious minerals of the Orient (Davis, Ralph English Overseas Trade 1500-1700, 1973: 30). Of course, the two state-contracted explorers that initiated Indian Ocean and Atlantic trading systems were Vasco da Gama of Portugal (1498) and Cristabol Colombo , a Genoan, in the employ of Spain. Because Portugal monopolized the water route to India rounding the Cape of Good Horn after 1498, the ruling house of Hapsburg Spain - supported by Barcelona’s mercantile interests - sponsored a western oceanic route . One of the major commodities bought and sold within one leg of the Atlantic triangular trade system (1492-1825) was African slaves. Slavery had been an ancient form of labor control throughout much of the world, including
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This note was uploaded on 04/22/2010 for the course ENG 110 taught by Professor Whitchurch during the Spring '10 term at Golden West College.

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Module%201%20-%20The%20History%20of%20the%20Economic%20Global%20System

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